Ever wondered what it would sound like if you slowed down a song massively? Those of you who grew up with record players will already know the answer, as on the good ol’ turntables you could play around with the speed the record played back at. Some record players only let you play at 33 or 45 rpm, for long playing records and singles respectively, bu my dad had a Lenco which had a temposlider that you could set to pretty much any speed. So it was really good fun to make Bing Crosby sound like Mickey Mouse, by playing White Christmas much faster than it should be. Or indeed to slow the Glenn Miller Orchestra down to sound like they were playing too low, from a long way down in a cave (when slowed down).
And therein lies the problem – of you slow down a recording the pitch drops. If you speed it up, the pitch goes up and singers, even the very best, just sound like Mickey Mouse.
Three years ago someone called Paul posted a video of Justin Bieber’s U Smile slowed down by 800%. The effect is a rather mesmerising and ethereal. Like angels singing (and I am not Bieber fan).
What was different here is that the pitch stayed the same, but without any strange graininess coming into the audio file – the usual problem when you slow down audio in a daw (digital audio workstation, like Cubase or Logic).
The software is actually freely available:
There is also a similar product available, which lets you freeze, at the pouch of a button, any audio that is playing back. It is rather aptly called Time Freezer.
This is not the usual subject for one of our blogs, but we thought we might do a quick round-up of the string libraries that are out there to purchase right now, and which ones you might want to consider if you are on a budget. The list is not designed to be complete, but is designed to really look at the main players in the market. So, here we go:
This is actually not a string library, but an orchestral ensemble patch library. I mention this however as the string patches are sonically quite incredible. You basically have a choice of Violins in octaves, Violins with Violas, Celli and Bases in octaves or unison, and spiccato patches for Violins and Celli as well as full strings ensemble patches.
Incredible sound, recorded at Air Studios in London onto physical tape, giving the sound an unprecedented richness
Great to use for blending with other libraries
Competitive price at £349 + Vat
Other than that you have not got articulations for each instrument of the orchestra separately (so Violins 1, Violins 2 etc), which it wasn’t designed to have anyway, there are none
Sounds aren’t quite as good as the other libraries
If you intend to buy any of these either sign up to the companies newsletter, or twitter feed, or like them on facebook, as you will get news of their offers, and these libraries always go on sale at some point (at the time of writing East West have knocked $100 off Hollywood Strings Gold, for example), and truly huge savings can be had. Try to never buy a library at full price.
String libraries sound best when you blend two or more, so ideally you should buy more than one. Both the “lite” versions of Hollywood Strings (called Gold) and LA Scoring Strings (called Lite) offer a great starting point at $499 and $399 respectively. If you have not got a fast system, and the choice is between these two, go or LA Scoring Strings (LASS), as this will put a lot less strain in your computer.
Listen to the demo tracks available on the website, but be aware that these can sometimes fool you a little, as they are really designed to sound as good as possible, using mostly lush legato articulation or short spiccato patches. But often articulations in-between these two are hard to get right, and 8dio’s Adagio package does especially well at catering for these.
Spitfire Albion offers a great alternative, as you also get all the other orchestral ensemble patches for brass, woodwinds and some percussion, as well as some synths, and the sound is outstanding.
Not previously mentioned here, but do not buy EastWest’s Symphonic Orchestra – this was a great product when it first was released, but is now 10 years old, but is really showing its age